When I was a kid, I wanted boobs. Every night after I turned out the light, I quietly did “exercises” reciting the old saying:
“I must, I must, I must increase my bust.
The bigger, the better, the tighter the sweater.”
Understand this: I was always the shortest girl in my grade. I was into ballet. I was flat as a board. President of the Itty-Bitty-Titty Committee. Despite the fact that every other female in my family was well endowed, I didn’t get the big boob gene. Even when I was overweight in my teens, I never hit a bra size over 36B. My friends used to complain about the backaches and hassles (and harassment) of having large ta-tas, and I know a few women who have had breast reductions. I was secretly jealous back then, but came to accept that I’d never be a SI model and just made do with what I got.
Until I got a lump.
In my mid-thirties, one night after I turned out the light (I no longer did “exercises”), I turned over to settle in and brushed up fingers up against my left side. Lump. A tiny one. Itty-bitty. Perhaps if I was a little more boobified, I wouldn’t have felt it later until it had grown, but because I didn’t really have much there, it was easy to feel.
The first doctor I saw told me that it was nothing to be concerned about, but just have someone stateside have a look if it grew. I was living in Europe, heading back to the U.S. and was relieved at the time to just not deal with anything else major going on in my tumultuous life. Yeah. Phew.
We all hear the statistics about one in nine women and breast cancer. The lump grew over the next few months and with it, my concern that maybe this wasn’t normal. So, I took my boobs over to have a mammogram and all hell broke loose. The mammogram tech freaked out quietly and then sent me to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech didn’t say a word as she slid the instrument through a thick layer of prewarmed (How nice of them!) goop, then quickly left the room. Enter the radiologist, who brusquely announced I had breast cancer and scheduled a core needle biopsy to “determine the course of treatment”, then sailed out of the room, probably to go kick some puppies or take candy away from a baby.
I don’t remember driving home that day. Or what I said to my family. I do remember buying books and doing a lot of research and wondering if I’d finally get to choose the perfect set of boobs with reconstructive surgery if I had to have a mastectomy.
Core needle biospies are uncomfortable if you metabolize lidocaine quickly. (Guess who does? This girl.) They kept injecting it and I kept on feeling every snip they took with the “needle gun”. A bag of frozen peas helped with the physical pain and the phone call later that day helped with the mental pain. No cancer. Diabetic fibrous mastopathy.
Let’s start by saying that this is no “one in nine women” for the general population, but for Type 1 diabetics, according to this informative Medscape article, it can supposedly be found in up to 13% of us (But if you do the math, it’s about one in eleven, so we’re not far off.). If you’re a female diabetic who’s been kicking it with insulin for more than five years, lumpy boobs may be in your future and those lumps look like cancer on a mammogram. Only core needle biopsies can confirm otherwise.
So, what’s to be done? Excision of the lump doesn’t prevent other lumps from appearing and can end up making one’s boobs divoted. (Think stamping divots on a polo field or replacing a divot on a golf course. Neither are appealing to me.) More lumps can show up. About a year after the first lump appeared, a second one arrived in my right breast. Yippee! A lump fiesta!
Why do I think I have this complication? I’m more and more convinced that my inflammatory response with an autoimmune disease like Type 1 diabetes is in overdrive. All of my complications (save one) have to due with inflammation reactions.
Mammograms now happen on a regular basis. Thankfully, only the two lumps have taken up residence in my knockers, which is good because there wasn’t much much toom to begin with. When I became pregnant and was supplying milk for my little lactovore, I got the boobs I wanted. (Truth, men? I really don’t see what the fuss is about. To each his own, I guess.) I could barely feel the lumps, but now the boobs are back to my regular size (Sob.) and the lumps are back to being…lumpy.
Boobies aren’t talked about enough in the DOC. (Guys, stop laughing. This CAN happen to you. Men can also get diabetic fibrous mastopathy.) When I researched the diagnosis way back when, the Internet search spit out less than 20 results. Not a single one from a diabetic’s point of view. I could look at radiological slides and read scholarly articles. I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one out there with lumpy boobs. Thanks to the DOC, I know I’m not. I think we need to do a better job, however, of sharing information about this little known complication, not just within the DOC, but also docs and nurses. (Yes. I’ve had to explain and give links to my medical teams to look at. I believe a well-informed patient can be part of the education process in the medical profession.)
These days, I still want boobs, but I’m not looking for them to be big. Just ones without lumps.
P.S. The title of this article is taken from the title of an album by Bloodhound Gang. Funny as all get out, but highly inappropriate to listen around small children and uptight individuals.
P.P.S. When I was deciding on the name of this blog and getting the URL, I thought ThePerfectD.com was just…perfect. As it turns out, if you don’t use the word “The” in the URL, it does talk about boobies. A lot. And not about, like, diabetic fibrous mastopathy. Yikes!